Yawn: CBS Evening News Skips Obama Memo on Drone Strikes Against U.S. Citizens

The CBS Evening News on Tuesday completely ignored the revelation, uncovered in a leaked government memo, that the Obama administration claims the power to legally kill al Qaeda terrorists, even if they're American citizens. ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday allowed a mere 42 seconds to this rather important topic. ABC's World News, NBC's Nightly News and the Today show all covered the story. Of the six evening and morning shows, however, only three featured the liberal American Civil Liberties Union decrying this move by a Democratic president.

World News reporter Jon Karl at least pointed out the obvious contradiction of liberals who railed against supposed torture by George W. Bush, reminding, "As soon as he became President, Barack Obama stopped CIA tactics like wateboarding that he considered torture. But this justifies outright killing a suspected terrorist." The journalist added, "How does dropping a bomb on an American citizen without any judicial review, any trial, not raise any human rights questions, or more human rights questions than something like waterboarding?" (Or, one might also wonder, putting a catepillar in a box with a terrorist. Under George W. Bush, ABC labeled this "torture.")

Karl featured a clip of the ACLU's Hinsa Shamsi asserting that the policy is "a claim that the executive branch can be judge, jury and executioner."

NBC's Nightly News on Tuesday also included a snippet of an ACLU rep saying the "limits are vague and elastic."

Brian Williams, on the same program, asserted, "Others see the use of drones by the United States as nothing more than execution by air, without due process, no court, no charges, no trial, and relatively little oversight."

Good Morning America on Wednesday allowed less than a minute and no mention of the liberal ACLU complaining about the liberal Obama. News reader Josh Elliott insisted the latest news adds to the "growing debate now over whether the agency's controversial drone program is going too far."

Can one have a "growing debate" when GMA offers 42 seconds?

NBC's Today, at least, featured ACLU rep Jameel Jaffer complaining, "It is a chilling document. You know, it sets out the government's claimed authority to carry out the targeting killing of American citizens."

On CBS This Morning, Bill Plante allowed two clips of Jay Carney defending the policy as "legal" and "ethical." He also included Eric Holder, but didn't get to objections until the very end. Plante briefly explained, "Civil liberties advocates have been very upset with the targeted strike policy since it became public." Plante mentioned the ACLU, but allowed no clips any of their representatives.

On April 17, 2009, ABC fretted over "chilling" memos showing that Abu Zubaydah was "tortured" by having "prisoners placed in a cramped confinement box with an insect." Apparently harmless caterpillars are more of a problem than blowing up U.S. citizens without trial.

A partial transcript of the February 5 World News segment is below:


JON KARL: By one count, President Obama has already used unmanned CIA drones to strike more than 300 suspected terrorist targets, even more than his predecessor. But today, we learned just how much authority the administration believes it has to kill, without trial or evidence, suspected terrorists, even American citizens. A newly disclosed Justice Department document says American citizens tied to al Qaeda can be killed, if, "an informed, high-level official believes the target poses an imminent threat." But the document says it, quote, "does not require the government to have clear evidence."

...

KARL: Human rights advocates say the Justice Department memo goes way too far. And

HINSA SHAMSI: Justifies essentially, a claim that the executive branch can be judge, jury and executioner.

KARL: As soon as he became President, Barack Obama stopped CIA tactics like wateboarding that he considered torture. But this justifies outright killing a suspected terrorist. How does dropping a bomb on an American citizen without any judicial review, any trial, not raise any human rights questions, or more human rights questions, than something like waterboarding?

 

World News reporter Jon Karl at least pointed out the obvious contradiction of liberals who railed against supposed torture by George W. Bush. Karl reminded, "As soon as he became President, Barack Obama stopped CIA tactics like wateboarding that he considered torture. But this justifies outright killing a suspected terrorist." The journalist added, "How does dropping a bomb on an American citizen without any judicial review, any trial, not race any human rights questions or more human rights questions than something like waterboarding?"

Karl featured a clip of the ACLU's Hinsa Shamsi asserting that the policy is "a claim that the executive branch can be judge, jury and executioner."

NBC's Nightly News also included a snippet of an ACLU rep saying the "limits are vague and estatic."

Brian Williams, on the same program, asserted, "Others see the use of drones by the United States as nothing more than execution by air, without due process, no court, no charges, no trial, and relatively little oversight."

Good Morning America on Wednesday allowed less than a minute and no mention of the liberal ACLU complaining about the liberal Obama. News reader Josh Elliott insisted the latest news adds to the "growing debate now over whether the agency's controversial drone program is going too far."

Can one have a "growing debate" when GMA offers 42 seconds?

NBC's Today, at least, featured ACLU rep Jameel Jaffer complaining, "It is a chilling document. You know, it sets out the government's claimed authority to carry out the targeting killing of American citizens."

On CBS This Morning, Bill Plante allowed two clips of Jay Carney defending the policy as "legal" and "ethical." He also included Eric Holder, but didn't get to objections until the very end. Plante briefly explained, "Civil liberties advocates have been very upset with the targeted strike policy since it became public." Plante mentioned the ACLU, but allowed no clips any of their re

On April 17, 2009, ABC fretted over "chilling" memos showing that Abu Zubaydah was "tortured" by having "prisoners placed in a cramped confinement box with an insect." Apparently harmless caterpillars are more of a problem than blowing up U.S. citizens without trial. As long as the president involved is a Democrat, that is.

A partial transcript of the February 5 World News segment is below:

JON KARL: By one count, President Obama has already used unmanned CIA drones to strike more than 300 suspected terrorist targets, even more than his predecessor. But today, we learned just how much authority the administration believes it has to kill, without trial or evidence, suspected terrorists, even American citizens. A newly disclosed Justice Department document says American citizens tied to al Qaeda can be killed, if, "an informed, high-level official believes the target poses an imminent threat." But the document says it, quote, "does not require the government to have clear evidence."

...

KARL: Human rights advocates say the Justice Department memo goes way too far. And

HINSA SHAMSI: Justifies essentially, a claim that the executive branch can be judge, jury and executioner.

KARL: As soon as he became President, Barack Obama stopped CIA tactics like wateboarding that he considered torture. But this justifies outright killing a suspected terrorist. How does dropping a bomb on an American citizen without any judicial review, any trial, not race any human rights questions or more human rights questions than something like

 

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org